Sailing Barnegat Bay New Jersey – An East Coast Gem

Posted by Michael Bandera - June 7, 2013 - Sailing Entertainment - 2 Comments

In my humble opinion, Barnegat Bay which is located in New Jersey, is one of the best sailing areas on the east coast.  This is particularly true when it comes to pure sailing or for novice sailors looking for a destination to learn to sail.  This is a place where sailors come to sail.  Here are six reasons why I still love to call Barnegat Bay my favorite summer sailing grounds.

1.  Always wind  –  This is a big one.  Just ask the sailors from the Chesapeake and Long Island sound how the July/August winds are there!  I can count on one hand how many days I am unable to sail due to lack of wind from May-October.  In fact I awake each day hoping for less wind.

2.  Big winds/ calm waters – Due to the geographic location of Barnegat Bay and the prevailing southwest wind, we often have 15 knots of wind with less than 1 foot wave height.  The presence of New Jersey’s barrier islands including Seaside, Island Beach State Park, and Long Beach Island create a unique protected bay just 1/4 of a mile from the Atlantic Ocean resulting in big winds with calm waters.

3.  Soft bottom – Barnegat Bay and New Jersey in general has no rocks or coral to worry about.  It’s  bottom consists of a sand/mud mix that is perfect for anchoring and less harmful on fiberglass hulls and keels when the inevitable “running aground” does occur.

4. Minimal tides and currents  – With 20 miles separating Barnegat Inlet from the Manasquan Inlet, the bay proper is effected very little by tides or currents.  Although the currents at both inlets can be close to 3 knots at times, the main body of the bay has no measurable current.  Without currents tides are also minimal.  Usually less than 2 feet.  In fact the wind direction has a greater effect on the height of the water level than does the moon and sun.

5.  Scenic – As stated before Barnegat Bay is lined with barrier islands.  In particular is Island Beach State Park, an undeveloped 13 mile jewel along the eastern shore. Another beautiful section of Barnegat Bay is Barnegat Inlet.  It is dotted with sedge islands, clear blue water, and the famous “old barney” lighthouse giving it the feel of both Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras alike.

6.  Cruisers central – Barnegat Bay, New Jersey is centrally located between 2 very popular cruising destinations, Block Island and Chesapeake Bay.  Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island is a sailors paradise.  It offers a safe anchorage, great hiking trails, and that famous island feel.  Block Island is an easy overnight sail from Barnegat Inlet.   Chesapeake Bay, the big kahuna among cruising sailors is a 2 day sail away.  Chesapeake Bay offers the cruiser endless coves, rivers, and quaint towns to explore.

I could probably think of a few more reasons why Barnegat Bay is such a unique place to sail but come see for yourself and find your own reasons for sailing along the Jersey Shore.


  • John Uhden says:

    What Michael failed to address is the proliference and quality of one-design racing held each Summer weekend (okay, Spring and Fall, too) at the numerous member clubs of the BBYRA (Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association, Classes include Lasers, Flying Scots, 420s, Lightnings, Sanderlings, Sandpipers, M Scows, E Scows, Sneakboxes, Sunfish, Ensigns, and the regal A Cats.

    The BBYRA has developed any number of world class sailors, yet the congenial competition (and celebrations) makes for the utmost in fun for the individual and the entire family.

    • Thanks for pointing out the excellent racing opportunities that abound on Barnegat Bay as well as cruising and day sailing adventures. In fact Gary Jobson, American Cup champion, ESPN sailing commentator, and unofficial voice of all things sailing in the US began his racing career on Barnegat Bay.

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